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Chris Wright Needs to be on Georgetown’s NBA Wall

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The first known NBA player with MS should be honored by Georgetown.

Cleveland at Dallas Brandon Wade/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Over the past few Sundays, an awesome-but-unlikely pair of favorite Hoyas in Gene Smith and Trey Dickerson have been organizing interviews on Instagram with some of the Georgetown Hoyas Alumni as part of a “Hoya Locker Room Talk” series.

Yesterday’s conversations featured one of the Hoyas’ best backcourt duos ever when Chris Wright and Austin Freeman who took a time out to chat on IG (part 1 and part 2)

One question they briefly discussed was whether Chris Wright’s NBA Jersey should be on The Wall at Georgetown.

It is nothing less than a sin and a shame to not include Chris Wright’s jersey on The Wall. To be honest I’m not exactly sure who is on The Wall currently in the Thompson Center, or if it has been updated, but one would think that if it were currently on The Wall, Wright would know about it.

If it’s a case of having to change the Jersey Rule to be more inclusive of players in a new era of 10-day contracts and two-way deals, then the “powers at be” should re-evaluate the situation. But if it’s only a matter of having the Mavericks jersey recreated, I’ll walk down to Philly’s own Mitchell & Ness.

Chris Wright is an awesome Hoya and an amazing human. Wright is universally regarded as the first NBA player with Multiple Sclerosis. Besides having a long career in the D-League and abroad, Wright played on a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2012-2013 season.

‘I’m not just trying to live’ — Prince George’s basketball player competes with MS | WTOP | WTOP (2020)

[F]our months after Wright went crashing to the floor in Turkey, he was at the San Antonio Spurs’ summer camp. He played well enough there to get a tryout with the New Orleans Pelicans, a season in the NBA’s G League with the Iowa Energy and the stint with the Mavericks. Wright’s basketball career has also taken him to Italy, France, Israel and now Poland, where he is coming off his most productive season — even though he stills feels symptoms from tingling in his hands and feet to fatigue.

Mavericks G Wright joins team while battling MS | ESPN (2013)

Wright became the first-known NBA player to acknowledge having multiple sclerosis when he signed a 10-day deal with Dallas and joined the Mavs in San Antonio. That’s a fact that Wright is especially proud of after earning a call-up from the D-League. “That’s definitely one of the things I pride myself on, being the face of it and being an inspiration and motivation for people to keep fighting.” said Wright, who averaged 15.5 points, 7.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals for the Iowa Energy this season to earn a D-League All-Star bid. “I made history with this.”

Multiple sclerosis won’t stop Chris Wright from pursuing NBA dream | WASHINGTONPOST (2013)

Being the first NBA player with MS means a great deal to Wright, who found inspiration in the fact that he received his diagnosis during MS Awareness Week. “I remember, I asked Dr. Crayton, ‘Do you know any NBA players that have MS?’ ” Wright recalled. “She looked into it and said, ‘No, I don’t.’ I said, ‘Okay, well that’s my goal.” And while he achieved the goal with that brief stint with the Mavericks, Wright is hungry to stick at the highest level and serve as a role model to others with his condition as he does so.

The IG video also features plenty of discussion on coaching aspirations, relating to kids, and the potential to recruit the D.C. area with better luck. Gene Smith and Trey Dickerson, as well as all their guests, deserve our support and gratitude for giving Hoyas fans a bit deeper insight, so be sure to follow them.

The pair of Freeman and Wright also offered that guys like Jonathan Wallace and Kevin Braswell should be honored on the Wall in some capacity, too. Georgetown has had many players who have had their tremendous professional careers take them all over the world. International careers can be lucrative and are certainly worth celebrating. Perhaps a new tradition, with a global wall including photos of guys who played X years internationally, is worth considering for placement somewhere in the 4-year-old athletics practice facility.

As for other Georgetown Basketball players who should be on The NBA Wall, our friend LCPolo18 reminds us of a few others could be considered missing.

In a Google Sheet, he took the Hoya Basketball History list of Georgetown NBA players, and the Georgetown list, and then compared it against photos of the Thompson Athletic Center. The “Jersey Order” column of his list is a best guess to match players with the order that their jerseys are displayed on the wall. Where that column is blank, the player’s jersey is not on the wall.

The key categories of missing players are:

1. The players from the pre-Thompson era were not included in the wall when John Thompson Jr started displaying jerseys on the wall.

2. The players that were drafted but never played in the NBA were not included in the wall (sorry Michael Graham).

3. The players that transferred away from Georgetown were not included in the wall (sorry Vernon Macklin and Jerrelle Benimon).

4. Then there are Robert Churchwell, Chris Wright, and Marcus Derrickson. None of them were drafted, none of them had a fully guaranteed contract, and none of them played a full year in the NBA. These guys deserve to be on The Wall.

One Tweet suggested that only players who have played a full year in the NBA might qualify, but, respectfully, that would exclude Patrick Ewing, Jr.

Others have proposed that it may take more than one 10 day contract—which may have been confirmed by comments in 2018—but that would include Robert Churchwell who signed two 10-day contracts in 1996 and then was signed for the remainder of the season. Such a line seems both arbitrary and improperly enforced.

LCPolo18 believes that if a kid from your program plays in the NBA, he should get his jersey on the wall. It’s hard to argue against him here and there really is no downside. While it may be tough getting pre-1971 jerseys, there’s no real excuse for modern players. In an era with an NBA G League and two-way contracts, the rule should be inclusive to anyone who suited up in the NBA.

Accordingly, at minimum, it seems like there should be significant GU fan and alumni encouragement for Robert Churchwell, Chris Wright, and Marcus Derrickson to be honored on the wall. Agreed?